NEXT 2024 Spring Screens Guide

All the most exciting new releases, classic screenings and free events that the city has to offer

Winter is over and we are looking ahead to a new crop of documentaries, indies and TV series to get us out of our cold-weather shell. Below are the most exciting new releases, classic screenings and free events that the city has to offer.

Blockbusters

This spring, Hollywood delivers some sure-fire crowd-pleasers, family fare and thought-provoking dramas. So, grab your popcorn, select your seats and settle in.

The American Society of Magical Negroes

What: Movie, 108 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., March 15
Genre: Comedy

Kobi Libii’s genre-bending Sundance hit, The American Society of Magical Negroes is a comedy about a mysterious society that has taken on a secret mission to ease the often volatile discomfort of white people. Blending social satire, fantasy, and romance, Libii’s film takes a funny and wholly original approach to the question of identity, destiny and what we owe to each other.

Challengers

What: Movie, 114 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., April 26
Genre: Drama

The steamy tennis drama Challengers, Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to his 2022 cannibal love story, Bones and All, is finally hitting theatres after being delayed because of the strikes. Zendaya stars as a former top player who now manages her husband’s tennis career, but when his game hits a slump, she places him in a high-stakes match against her former lover. With competitive sports meeting sexy psychodrama, Challengers is sure to be one of the buzziest films of the season.

Fall Guy

Fall Guy
What: Movie, 125 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., May 3
Genre: Action-Comedy

After his scene-stealing role as Ken in Barbie, Ryan Gosling is sticking to comedy in Fall Guy. Gosling plays a laid-off stuntman roped into working on his ex’s directorial debut, who gets pulled into Hollywood’s seedy underbelly when the leading man disappears. Also starring Emily Blunt and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the trailer boasts stunts, explosions and corny one-liners. If you’re looking for a popcorn film, this is it!

IF

What: Movie, 111 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., May 17
Genre: Family 

If you’re looking for something for the kids (or the child within), check out John Krasinski’s latest directorial effort IF (which stands for “imaginary friend”). IF tells the story of a young girl named Bea who has the ability to see other people’s imaginary friends. This combination of live-action and animation gathers an all-star cast including Ryan Reynolds, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Steve Carell.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

What: Movie, 140 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., May 24
Genre: Action

Furiosa is the long-awaited origin story and spin-off to George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), one of the biggest critical and box-office hits of the 2010s. The prequel explores the fierce and resilient Furiosa’s journey from a young rebel to a legendary warrior as she leads a daring escape from the oppressive regime of Immortan Joe. The film’s cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hardy and Anya Taylor-Joy as the young Furiosa. And to get reacquainted with the Mad Max universe, don’t miss The Revue theatre’s screening of the original Mad Max (1979) on Fr., April 12.

Indie Gems And International Must-Sees

The best films of the year often aren’t the biggest, so here are some of the most exciting and complex films of the year, flying just below the radar.

They Shot The Piano Player

What: Movie, 103 mins
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., March 15
Genre: Animated Documentary
Rating: NNN

Animated documentary uses a New York journalist’s quest to understand an obscure Brazilian piano player to explore the roots of samba music and the history of the phenomenon that swept the world in the ‘60s.

Riddle of Fire

What: Movie, 114 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., March 22
Genre: Adventure

After making waves at Cannes and TIFF, Weston Razooli’s debut indie drama about three friends on an epic search hits theatres this March. Set in Wyoming, the film tracks three kids eager to secure a blueberry pie for their mother, which leads them to strange encounters with poachers, a huntsman and a fairy. Shot on 16mm film, this bizarre take on the family adventure movie feels like a contemporary fairy tale with a B-movie sensibility.

The People’s Joker

What: Movie, 92 mins.
Where: In theatres
When: Fri., April 5
Genre: Parody

Pulled out of TIFF’s Midnight Madness program in 2022 for copyright infringement, Vera Drew’s satire of the superhero genre became a cause-celebre for alternative film enthusiasts. Starring alt-cinema legends like Maria Bamford and Tim Heidecker, Drew’s irreverent, funny and bizarre take on the supervillain is unlike anything else out there.

Evil Does Not Exist

What: Movie, 105 mins.
Where: Hot Docs Theatre
When: Fri., April, 26
Genre: Drama

After his surprise 2021 arthouse hit, and Oscar nominee, Drive My Car, ‎Ryusuke Hamaguchi returns with his beguiling new film, Evil Does Not Exist. The film follows two consultants who visit a rural Japanese village where they hope to build a luxury campground. After being rebuffed by the protective locals, the consultants begin to ingratiate themselves with the town and fall under the spell of the pace of country life. Evil Does Not Exist is a complex and truly surprising reflection of gentrification and our own untameable natures.

Free Films

The cost of living keeps going up, so enjoy some of the wallet-friendly film programming that the city has to offer.

Friday Night Film: The Wizard of Oz Singalong

What: Movie, 112 mins.
Where: TPL Bloor-Gladstone Branch
When:
Fri., March 22
Genre: Family

We’re all thrilled that the library has recovered from its ransomware attack, but while you’re spamming the site with months’ worth of unread holds, don’t forget that the library offers regular free screenings in branches across the city. Bring the kids to a singalong screening of The Wizard of Oz as part of Bloor-Gladstone’s Friday Night Films.

Black Excellence: Friday

What: Movie, 97 mins.
Where: Innis Town Hall
When: Fri., March, 22
Genre: Drama

The Cinema Studies Student Union Free Friday screenings continue at Innis Town Hall with a special screening of the slacker comedy, Friday (1995), co-hosted by the University of Toronto’s Black Students Association. The film follows two friends (Chris Tucker and Ice Cube) over the course of a single Friday as they try to find a job, dodge a girlfriend and avoid confrontation with the neighbourhood boss. Keep an eye on the CINSSU socials for upcoming free screenings.

National Canadian Film Day: Water

What: Movie, 118 mins.
Where: TPL Don Mills Branch
When: Wed., April 17
Genre: Drama

Celebrate National Canadian Film Day with a screening of Deepa Mehta’s powerful 2005 drama following a group of widows living in an ashram in 1938 India, and one young widow who seeks independence amidst the oppressive customs of the time. The third entry to Mehta’s element trilogy, Water, is one of her most beloved films and a classic of Canadian cinema.

Film Festivals

While TIFF gets a lot of attention, Toronto is a festival town year-round. This spring, catch several fests featuring documentaries, international films and video ephemera.

Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival

What: Movies
Where: Hot Docs Cinema
When: Thurs., March 21 to Thurs., March 28
Genre: Various

The Human Rights Watch international film festival returns to Toronto this spring with free film screenings and talks. Don’t miss impactful films like the autobiographical documentary Mediha, in which a young woman documents her search for justice after being held captive by ISIS, or the heartwarming Canadian film Summer Qamp about a camp for queer youth in Alberta. The films will also be available to view online for free from Sun., March 24 to Thurs., March 28.

Toronto Ukrainian Film Festival

What: Movies
Where: The Royal Cinema
When: Thurs., April 4 to Sun., April 7
Genre: Various

TUFF returns for its second year to celebrate the best of contemporary Ukrainian films. This year’s slate includes the powerful, stripped-down documentary In the Rearview, the romantic and imaginative period drama Felix Austria and the dark comedy from last year’s TIFF, Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Festival proceeds will go to the Second Front Ukraine Foundation and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

Hot Docs

What: Movies
Where: Various
When: Thurs., April 25 to Sun., May 5
Genre: Documentary

This spring, one of Toronto’s most prestigious and well-loved film festivals celebrates its 30th year. Although the schedule has not been announced, block out some time to see the year’s best documentaries, go to a party or two or sit in on an engaging talk. Hot Docs brings the most moving, funny and challenging stories from our complex world to the screen.

Found Footage Film Festival

What: Short films, 90 mins.
Where: Revue Cinema
When: Fri., May 10 to Sat., May 11
Genre: Various

One of the city’s most unique film events is the Found Footage festival, a two-night celebration of the weird, the dated and the unexpected. Two VHS obsessives, Joe Pickett (The Onion) and Nick Prueher (Late Show), will screen hidden gems from their collection (which boasts over 13,000 titles). This year’s cinematic curios include 1987 dating service tapes, a new-age seminar and a dubious striptease. The footage includes brief nudity and guarantees an unconventional good time.

Classics

With the city’s thriving repertory cinemas, you’re never too far away from seeing a masterpiece of film history. Here are some standout screenings of the season.

Rebel Yell: Girlhood in the 1980s

What: Movies
Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox
When: Sat., March 16 to Thurs., March 21
Genre: Various

This March, TIFF Cinematheque presents a series of films about girlhood in the ’80s, featuring heroines who are bold, defiant and deeply distrustful of those in charge. The series includes films like the powerful 1980 Canadian drama Out of the Blue (March, 16), the rousing Times Square (March, 17) and the infectious 1982 Australian rock musical Starstruck (March, 21).

Model

What: Movie, 129 mins.
Where: Hot Docs Cinema
When: Sun., March 17
Genre: Documentary

Frederic Wiseman is one of the most revered documentary filmmakers, but his films rarely screen in Toronto. So don’t miss your chance to catch one of Wiseman’s underseen documentaries with an introduction by an expert on the filmmaker. Wiseman is a fly on the wall at an exclusive modelling agency in Manhattan, where a select few models navigate the glitzy confines of fashion, television and advertising. Model is an insightful and funny examination of art, commerce and fantasy.

Untucked presents Silence of the Lambs

What: Movie, 118 mins.
Where: Paradise Theatre
When: Thurs., March 21
Genre: Thriller

For the Paradise’s new series Untucked, trans comedian Alice Rose takes a probing and humorous look at films that explore transness and gender. In March, the series presents Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. The Academy Award-winning thriller outraged trans viewers and activists with its portrayal of the serial killer Buffalo Bill, but the film has become a defining example of our fascination with true crime, serial killers and gender. Rose will explore the film’s impact in an opening stand-up set.

Scent of Green Papaya

What: Movie, 104 mins.
Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox
When: Wed., March 27
Genre: Drama

If you liked last year’s The Taste of Things, catch the director’s stunning 1993 period drama on a 35mm film print. An international hit on release, Tran Anh Hung’s film builds an evocative and thoughtful portrait of Vietnam before the American invasion. The Scent of Green Papaya follows Mui, a 10-year-old domestic worker whose innocent fascination with her surroundings gives her solace from her employers’ increasingly pressing problems. Don’t miss this poetic ode to the details of daily life and the bond between women.

Dracula's Daughter

What: Movie, 71 mins.
Where: The Revue Theatre
When: Sun., April 7
Genre: Horror

There is no shortage of classic horror in theatres in Toronto, but a classic horror screened on 16mm is a much rarer thing. A lesser-known outing in the legendary Universal Classic Monster pictures of the ’30s and ’40s, Dracula’s Daughter follows the Countess Marya Zaleska as she tries to free herself of her vampiric curse. If you’re a die-hard horror fan, you won’t want to miss seeing the 1936 chiller that inspired this year’s Abigail, starring Melissa Barrera, which hits theatres on April 19.

Streaming

While there are countless in-theatre options across the city, sometimes you just want to stay home. And so, here are your streaming best bets.

Gangnam Project

What: Series, Season 1, 9 episodes.
Where: CBC Gem
When: Now
Genre: Comedy

A CBC Gem original that follows the adventures of K-pop obsessed Korean-Canadian teenager Hannah Shin (Julia Kim Caldwell) who travels to Korea to tutor students at an elite K-pop training school in English. But when the school owner hears Hannah sing, she gets a chance at her real dream: K-pop idol.

Manhunt

Where: Apple TV+
What: Series, 7 episodes, 58 mins.
When: Thurs., March 14, new episodes weekly
Genre: Historical drama
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)

Imagine the assassination of U. S. president Abraham Lincoln as a procedural, Law & Order: Post -Civil War Unit. Manhunt is all that, a gripping crime story using 19th century sleuthing technology plus a revealing history lesson about the sabotage of Reconstruction in the States doubling down on inequality that haunts that country to this day.

3 Body Problem

What: Series, Season 1, 8 episodes
Where: Netflix
When: Thurs., March 21
Genre: Sci Fi 

Grimly mind-bending new Netflix series 3 Body Problem is based on the popular series of sci-fi novels by Liu Cixin and stars Benedict Wong and Eiza González. It follows a group of scientists investigating a string of murders of some of the top scientific minds in the world. But what they uncover at the heart of the conspiracy appears to be much stranger than imagined. If the children’s choir rendition of a Radiohead song in the trailer doesn’t convince you, maybe the trippy dream sequences will.

Ripley

What: Miniseries, 8 episodes
Where: Netflix
When: Thurs., April 4
Genre: Drama 

The moody, black-and-white trailer for Netflix’s take on Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley doesn’t give much away, nor does it explain why the talented Andrew Scott (47 years old) is cast as the fraudulent Ripley (who’s in his early 20s in the novel). Does this mean a unique twist on Highsmith’s classic crime novel or is just a misjudgment? Either way, Highsmith’s is a perennially compelling story of class, sexuality and the mysteries of identity. And at the very least, there are sure to be some lovely shots of Italy.

The Sympathizer

What: Miniseries, 7 episodes.
Where: HBO
When: Sun., April 14
Genre: Thriller

Don’t miss HBO’s highly anticipated adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s award-winning novel of the same name. A spy thriller and political satire, The Sympathizer follows a Vietnamese communist sleeper agent who has resettled in the United States and grapples with his divided loyalties in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The series also boasts an exceptional roster of talent in front of and behindthe screen, including Robert Downey Jr., director Park Chan-wook and Canadians icons Don McKellar and Sandra Oh.

Hacks

What: Series, Season 3, 30 mins.
Where: Crave
When: Thurs., May 2
Genre: Comedy

HBO’s breakout hit Hacks returns for its highly anticipated third season this May. The sardonic comedy follows a rudderless Gen Z comedy writer (Hannah Einbinder) hired to help an over-the-hill comedienne (Jean Smart) to modernize her Las Vegas show. The two develop an uneasy but powerful bond as they develop new material. The third season finds the two working on separate projects, but we can bet they’ll be reunited.

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